Jason Alistor BARR - 20/02/2017
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Jason Alistor BARR
Hearing: 20 February 2017 at [withheld] Prison via AVL to New Zealand Parole Board Office, Wellington
Members of the Board:
- Hon. MA Frater – Panel Convenor
- Ms G Hughes
- Mr B McMurray
DECISION OF THE BOARD
1. Forty-six year old Jason Alistor Barr is serving a sentence of five years and seven months imprisonment with a minimum period of imprisonment of two years and nine months imposed after he pleaded guilty to the crime of manslaughter.
2. The victim of his offending was Terry Smith.
3. The Judge’s sentencing notes record that Mr Barr and his co-offender, Mr Webster, were both intoxicated when they confronted Mr Smith and made allegations against him, which he denied. Mr Barr then poured petrol over him which, the Judge said, “could only have been for the purposes of threatening to set him alight”. Mr Barr’s co-offender struck a cigarette lighter in order to instil fear in Mr Smith and threaten him. Mr Smith subsequently died of his injuries.
4. Mr Barr was sentenced on 4 December 2014. He became eligible to be considered for release on parole on 26 January last year and his sentence ends on 24 November 2018.
5. This is Mr Barr’s second appearance before the Board. When he appeared in January last year he was undertaking the six-month [withheld] programme.
6. The last Board was clear that completing that programme was not necessarily sufficient to address his offending or entitle him to release.
7. In fact, Mr Barr has spent longer than most in the programme. He graduated from it on 16 September 2016 but, at his own request, stayed on to complete stages 2 and 3 again and to act as a mentor.
8. We have the benefit of an extensive treatment report prepared by the [withheld] providers.
9. We also have a psychological report dated 30 November 2016, prepared at the request of the last Board.
10. The writer of that report concluded that while Mr Barr has made considerable progress in addressing the causes of his substance abuse problems, many of the risk factors which led to his index offending remain unaddressed. Accordingly, he recommended that Mr Barr undertake and complete the [withheld] Programme in custody, as well as developing a robust release plan.
11. While Mr Barr says that he is quite happy to complete the [withheld] in the community, along with any other available interventions such as ongoing ACC counselling or continuing work with counsellors from the [withheld], he has consistently declined to complete it in custody.
12. He says that to do so would set him back. It would mean that he would “have to go back to the units full of crap”.
13. He currently holds a minimum security classification and is housed in the [withheld], which are self-care units. He has been there for six to eight weeks.
14. Although his counsel sought parole on his behalf, Mr Barr indicated that he was not expecting it.
15. His plan on release is to live with [withheld], [withheld]. Whether he would live in the house or in a caravan on the property is somewhat unclear. It is also unclear how long he proposes living with them. He indicated this would depend upon whether or not he accepted a job offered by the [withheld], or do ongoing work for the [withheld].
16. Mr Barr is assessed as posing a moderate risk of violent and/or general re-offending. We are far from satisfied that he has addressed that risk, or has the skills to manage it in the community.
17. Prior to the hearing he was shown letters from the ex-wife and son of his victim. We also told him of the meeting which we had with other members of the victim’s family. We told him that they oppose his release. In particular, on the basis of the restorative justice meeting they had with him some years ago, and the comments in the subsequent decision of the Board, they are not satisfied that he has accepted responsibility for his offending or addressed his anger.
18. Although Mr Barr and his supporter, [withheld], who was present at the meeting, have a different view of what transpired there, it is fair to say that after our meeting with Mr Barr today, we share the victims’ concerns about his lack of victim empathy. Although he kept saying that he did accept responsibility for his offending, he was not able to explain the consequences of it in any tangible way. Nor did he give any indication that he appreciated the enormity of his actions.
19. While we accept that Mr Barr has made significant changes since he has been in prison, we think he still has a long way to go. He would benefit from re-reading the psychologist’s report and reflecting on the recommendations.
20. Prison is a controlled environment; the community is not. Before Mr Bar is released, the Board needs to be satisfied that he has the skills to deal with the challenges which will no doubt confront him in the community. Given his past offending, and not only the index offending, he needs to demonstrate that he understands his anger and what triggers it.
21. Accordingly, parole is declined today. Mr Barr’s next hearing will be on a date in January 2018 to be allocated. We support him undertaking the [withheld] programme in the meantime, plus any available reintegrative activities, once his Case Manager and Psychological Services are satisfied that he has satisfactorily completed all necessary rehabilitative treatment.
Hon. MA Frater